Breast Cancer Awareness
During the month of October, the physicians and staff of General Surgical Associates are proud to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We are dedicated to educating our patients about the importance of early detection and hope that you find the information below helpful if you are researching breast surgery for your yourself or a loved one.
Types of Mastectomy
- Subcutaneous mastectomy – removes the entire breast but leaves the nipple and areola
- Total mastectomy – removes breast tissue, nipple and areola
- Modified radical mastectomy – removes entire breast and axillary lymph nodes
- Preventive mastectomy – total mastectomy for patients with a high genetic risk of breast cancer
What to expect before and after surgery
A few days before your mastectomy or lumpectomy, you will meet with your surgeon, who will address any questions or concerns you may have about the procedure. Let your surgeon know if you are taking any medications, as you may be advised to stop them before your surgery. About twelve hours before the procedure, you will stop eating and drinking.
On the day of your procedure, you will arrive to the hospital, where nurses will help you check in and change into a hospital gown. You will meet with both your surgeon and your anesthesiologist to address any last-minute questions. Then, you will be taken into the operating room, where anesthesia is administered and the surgery is performed. After surgery, you will be taken to a recovery room, where you will be monitored by a nurse. You will be prescribed pain medication, for your comfort after surgery. Your surgeon will provide specific post-operative instructions regarding activity as well as your bandages. A follow-up with your surgeon is usually scheduled for two weeks after surgery, to ensure that your recovery is going smoothly.
Recovery and Reconstruction
If you are having a mastectomy – A mastectomy usually requires a one to three day hospital stay, depending on the extent of the procedure. A drain may be placed to collect fluid, and will be removed by your doctor at a later date. After a mastectomy, many women choose to undergo breast reconstruction in order to restore the appearance of the breast. Reconstruction can be performed at the same time as the mastectomy procedure or at a later time, and may involve a breast implant or tissue transfer flap to reconstruct the area.
If you are having a lumpectomy – The lumpectomy procedure typically lasts about two hours, and is performed under general or local anesthesia, depending on the circumstances. During the procedure, an incision is made around the tumor, which is then removed and sent to a lab for testing. Your surgeon will then carefully close the incision, being sure to preserve the natural appearance of your breast. Finally, a bandage is placed over the site of the incision. Most patients return home the same day or may require an overnight stay at the hospital if the lumpectomy was combined with an axillary node biopsy. If you are going home the same day, you will need to bring a friend or relative along to listen to postoperative instructions and drive you home.